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Record Breaking 2011 Precipitation in the Ohio Valley - A Graphical Summary
No matter where you live in the Ohio Valley, your daily observations of the frequent episodes of heavy rainfall may have led you to believe that 2011 was one of the wettest years in your memory. You wouldn't be wrong.

What started back in Febraury as a wet and snowy end to the 2010-2011 winter season, took off in earnest in the spring with record April rainfall.  A fairly active summer with frequent thunderstorm clusters maintained the above normal rainfall for portions of the area. Autumn did its fair share, and in a virtual repeat to April, the end of the year ( November through early December) brought a new round of record setting storm systems.

All told, 2011 will go down as the wettest year on record for numerous locations centered on the Ohio River. In fact, precipitation has been so extreme that the state record for Ohio was unofficially broken for yearly precipitation at several sites in southwest Ohio.

See these other National Weather Service websites for recent stories on the excessive rainfall in the Ohio Valley:
The content below is a graphical trip through the year of monthly and yearly precipitation anomalies for the Ohio Valley.

Imagery from the Midwest Regional Climate Center

The following images (courtesy of the Midwest Regional Climate Center) show how the wettest year on record has evolved. From a monthly perspective, notice the similarities in the heavy rain footprint of the two excessively wet months (April and November), centered on the Ohio River. These two months were the most significant contributors to the heavy rain footprint seen further below.


January Precipitation % of Average
January
February Precipitation % of Average
February
March Precipitation % of Average
March
April Precipitation % of Average
April
May Precipitation % of Average
May
June Precipitation % of Average
June
July Precipitation % 
of Average
July
August Precipitation % of Average
August
September Precipitation % of Average
September
October Precipitation % of Average
October
November Precipitation % of Average
November
December Precipitation % of Average
December

2011 Yearly Precipitation as % of Normal
2011 Yearly Precipitation (% of Mean)
2011 Precipitation Total
2011 Yearly Precipitation (Departure from normal)

2011 Yearly Precipitation 
 Totals
2011 Yearly Precipitation (Inches)

Imagery from the National Weather Service

A different way to look at the same data is via the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service's precipitation estimate website, which uses rain gauge adjustments to radar data to create a highly detailed precipitation analysis over varying lengths of time.  Some interesting features really stand out, besides the Ohio Valley rainfall maximum. Equally impressive and on the opposite end of the spectrum is the extreme drought over the far southern United States.

Yearly Total of Precipitation for 2011
2011 Yearly Precipitation (inches)

Normal Precipitation
Normal Precipitation (inches)

2011 Departure from Normal
2011 Precipitation Departure from Normal (inches)

2011 Yearly Precipitation Departure from Normal (%)
2011 Precipitation Departure from Normal (%)

Climate Sites

Cincinnati - Record Summary

With 73.28 inches, Cincinnati broke its yearly precipitation record (previously 57.58" in 1990).  Cincinnati also broke its all-time April record (13.52" - previous record 9.77" in 1998) and its all-time November record (8.33" - previous record 7.51" in 1985). In addition, Cincinnati's wettest 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day periods have all been recorded in 2011. Cincinnati also experienced the wettest meteorological spring on record (24.78" - previous record 22.98" in 1996) 18th wettest meteorological summer, and wettest meteorological fall on record (19.86" - previous 16.95" in 1919). Also, Cincinnati has recorded 19 calendar days when greater than 1" of precipitation has fallen (previous record was 17 in 1879); the yearly average is 8. Cincinnati has recorded 6 calendar days when greater than 2" of precipitation has fallen (which ties the previous record of 6 in 1998).
Cincinnati

Columbus

Columbus also finished in first place for its wettest year on record (54.96" - previous record 53.16" in 1990).  Columbus also broke its all-time April record (7.14" - previous record 7.08" in 1893). Columbus also experienced the 3rd wettest meteorological spring (17.62" - record 19.22" in 1882),  and 2nd wettest meteorological fall on record (15.00" - previous 15.53" in 1881). 
Columbus

Dayton

Dayton finished in second place for its wettest year on record (56.72" - record 59.75" in 1990).  Dayton had its second wettest April of all-time (8.72" - record 9.20" in 1996) and its 6th wettest November.  Dayton also experienced the 3rd wettest meteorological spring on record (18.95" - record 21.06" in 1989), and wettest meteorological fall on record (19.65" - previous 15.35" in 1925). 
Dayton

Seth Binau, Science and Operations Officer (seth.binau@noaa.gov)